A few years ago, I was touring my friend’s new farm. As he bought it sight-unseen, it was an adventure for both of us. As we walked through the barns, I came to an odd sight. It was a pole, that had to be at least 100 year old, that was holding up the awning-style roof that extended the barn that previously housed pigs. What was so odd about this pole was that it was at least 14” in diameter from the roof all the way down to about hip height. Then, it quickly tapered to a diameter of about 6” at knee height and continued this diameter the rest of the way to the floor.
It took me a while to figure out why this pole looked this way. Then I realized what the barn used to house. Pigs. This pole had started with a uniform diameter when it was initially built, but over the years of countless animals coming and going, their never ending pattern of rubbing against this pole whittled down to its current size.
I often use this analogy to describe the importance of healing and self care. We are a society of fixing things only after they break. For many of us, very few things warrant preventative action. Yet, many of us can relate to this pole. Of being the main support for our jobs, our families, our homes, our hobbies, our friends, etc. We believe that we must stand tall and take care of business or bad things will happen. We often don’t consider our own needs as we determine what needs to be taken care of next. But, at some point, we must consider, what happens to the barn, the animals, and the farmer when that pole finally fails. Sure, it has been in a state of decline for decades, but as this process was a slow one, did anyone really take notice? Not until the ominous crack that precedes the roof coming down.
Then, we must consider the impact of this break on the pole itself. To be the main support for so many and then fail. To let others down.
So if one truly wants to help others, then they must take care of themselves—preferable before they break. We must remember that we are bulletin boards for all to see, that we carry a message—whether we want to or not—and that our actions speak loader than our words.
So, consider what you can do for yourself today. To grow, to heal, to rest, to laugh, to find serenity. For the easiest way to keep the pole from not breaking is to share its load with another.
Pat Spangler, CADC, LCPC